By Elise Franco
Canfield Board of Education members agreed that they need to open lines of communication with residents before asking them to support another levy.
Instead of placing a levy on the November ballot, the board decided during a special meeting Tuesday to spend the next six to 12 months gathering feedback and discussing what voters want when it comes to the school district and a potential levy.
Voters rejected 6.8-mill operating levies in November 2010 and May 2011 and a 4.9-mill operating levy in November 2011.
Superintendent Dante Zambrini said the district’s operating budget is balanced through 2015 due to cuts in staff and programs, as well as wage freezes over the past two years. He said this buys the district some time before it needs to ask voters for money.
“Programs and services were cut, but they’re not devastating,” he said. “By taking those actions, we’re able to have the resources in place to not be in an emergency situation.”
District Treasurer Patricia Kesner said they’ll likely revisit the possibility of a levy sometime in 2013.
Incoming Superintendent Alex Geordan, who will assume Zambrini’s post in August, said the most important thing for the board to do now is to communicate with voters.
“How have we put an olive branch out to the community to show them what we’ve done since the last [levy?]” Geordan asked. “We need to make people more aware of the situation and listen to their ideas and input.”
Geordan said the percentage of voters supporting each previous levy attempt hasn’t changed, which means the board needs to figure out why others are consistently voting no.
“Sometimes it’s a ‘no means no’ attitude, and they need change before they’ll pass an issue,” he said.
The first way the administration and board plans to collect community input is through a survey that will be mailed to all residents of Canfield City and Township.
Geordan said the survey likely will be mailed in August along with the district’s annual report. He said data from the surveys would be collected by an agency outside the district, and all of the results would be presented to residents in a public forum, highlighting every issue, positive or negative, touched on in the surveys.
“It’s one way to ask our people what they want out of their schools,” Geordan said.